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Tuesday, 10 August 2004
Page: 26030


Senator BROWN (4:42 PM) —We are not getting far, and I am going to keep going. I want an explanation of why those four words `except in rare circumstances' are in this clause in this so-called free trade agreement. I have been around long enough to know that you do not get escape hatches like that without them being meant to be used. We want to know why the escape hatch is built into this clause. What is wrong with saying that there are no regulatory actions by a party that are designed and applied to look after the country that can be considered expropriations? Why should Australia be subject to litigation and compensation for a law coming out of this parliament or for an action by the government under the law of this parliament?

When you see that principle generally being upheld but prefaced here by the words `except in rare circumstances' all the orange lights flash. So far the minister has not been able to give one example of what the rare circumstances were in the minds of those writing this treaty, let alone the catalogue that she feared might exhaust me. I ask again of the minister: what are the rare circumstances—give me one, two or three—that were envisaged by the drafters of this clause of this free trade agreement of your government?